Your Stimulus Dollars at Work: Big Brother is Watching Your Garbage

September 26, 2010

Here is an example of governments using technology to increase surveillance of citizens and to punish politically incorrect behavior. Initiatives like this all over the country are funded by the Obama stimulus bill:

Residents of Cleveland might soon think twice about throwing empty bottles or cans into the trash can. The town’s city council recently approved the implementation of a new high-tech trash collection system. The system will track how often residents recycle and help identify people who illegally toss recyclable materials into the garbage.

The chips will allow city workers to monitor how often residents roll their recycling bins to the curb. If a recycling bin hasn’t been used for several weeks, the chip will alert workers, who will then sort through the resident’s garbage for recyclable materials. If more than 10 percent of the trash is found to be recyclable, officials will issue a $100 fine. Cleveland requires its residents to recycle materials including glass, metal cans, plastic bottles, paper and cardboard.

So if you go on a long vacation and want to avoid trouble with Big Brother you will need someone not just to pick up the mail and feed your cats. They will also need to move your recycling bins back and forth every week.

The city of Cleveland claims that it “pays $30 a ton to dump garbage in landfills, but earns $26 a ton for recyclables.” If that is the case, rather than implement a costly surveillance scheme of how people dispose of trash, it would be profitable to invest in a garbage processing plant that separates recyclables from other garbage or pay a private company to provide such a service. But that would go against the environmentalist creed that wants to brainwash people until they are true believers especially if this can be done using Obama stimulus funds.

Cleveland is apparently not alone taking government surveillance of garbage to new levels and, in many cases, initiatives like this are funded with Obama stimulus money.

Beware the green police. They don’t carry guns and there’s no police academy to train them, but if you don’t recycle your trash properly, they can walk up your driveway and give you a $100 ticket.

They know what’s in your trash, they know what you eat, they know how often you bring your recycles to the curb — and they may be coming to your town soon. That is, if they’re not already there.

In a growing number of cities across the U.S., local governments are placing computer chips in recycling bins to collect data on refuse disposal, and then fining residents who don’t participate in recycling efforts and forcing others into educational programs meant to instill respect for the environment.

From Charlotte, N.C., to Cleveland, Ohio, from Boise, Idaho, to Flint, Mich., the green police are spreading out. And that alarms some privacy advocates who are asking: Should local governments have the right to monitor how you divide your paper cups from your plastic forks? Is that really the role of government?

In Dayton, Ohio, chips placed in recycle bins transmit information to garbage trucks to keep track of whether residents are recycling — a program that incensed Arizona Sen. John McCain, who pointed out that the city was awarded half a million dollars in stimulus money for it.

Harry Lewis, a computer science professor at Harvard University and a noted privacy expert, cried foul about the “spy chips,” which are already in use in several cities and are often funded by government stimulus programs. He noted that cattle farmers use the same chips to tell if Betsy the Cow has generated her milk quota for the day.

“It’s treating people like cattle!” Lewis cried. Are people “supposed to produce recyclable waste, rather than certain quantities of milk”? What, he asked, happens if you don’t generate enough?

Run along now and put more paper into the recycling bin so that your local government doesn’t identify you as an “underproducing cow.”

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